1. Ty Toney is better than you're giving him credit for
With all eyes and attention on James Thompson's ridiculously good freshman season and Raven Lee with the hot hand, sometimes we don't highlight other players on the roster as much as we probably should.
Ty Toney is the straw that stirs the drink.— Alex Alvarado (@ARAlvarado13) January 10, 2016
The Georgia Highlands College transfer has put out good performances for the Eagles all season, run the point guard position maybe better than anticipated, and has been beneficial to the Eagles' defensive presence (of course). The Eagles haven't rebounded well this season, but they're really good at stealing the ball (third in the nation with 10.3 per game coming in). Toney does that a lot, and did so five times against the Bulls.
"I've always been a defensive guy," Toney said after the game. "It creates easy offense for us.
"I expect to play well every game. I had a lot of confidence tonight, play with a lot of confidence, and look to keep doing that."
Stat line? 17 points (6-for-13), four rebounds, three assists to two turnovers.
2. You win games when you score more points
Shut up, I know what you're thinking. I couldn't over-simplify the M.O. of the game if I tried, but let's remember who we're talking about here. Generally speaking, nobody really looks at Eastern Michigan as a threatening team on offense.
Points come in many ways. Thompson is one to make upwards of 70 percent of his shots at a time to help out the offense, but today was in large part due to the team's ability to 1. get to the free throw line and 2. take advantage of the opportunities. Five Eagles finished with 13 or more points, and those five (Brandon Nazione, Thompson, Lee, Toney, Willie Mangum) shot a combined 32-for-42 in that area. It helps when the other team gets you into the double-bonus in the first half, but the Eagles also shot at a 44 percent clip from the field in the second half (22-for-54 all game).
Eagles coach Rob Murphy noted that steals not only create more offensive opportunities, but puts the other team in a mental disadvantage. "Deflections make the offensive team in doubt." EMU had 12 points in the fast break, 28 off turnovers (23).
Lee, similarly to the Northern Illinois game, had another quiet first half but finished with 14 points after missing his first six shots of the game. He would go 4-for-15 for the game. Uncharacteristic, but not something to worry about.
3. Nobles could end up having more playing time(?)
Maybe. He didn't have an eye-popping game, but did get some early minutes once Thompson hit a couple of early fouls, then stayed out on the floor as a forward to give Nazione some rest too.
He's 6-foot-9, flirting with 200 pounds on the scale, and while these things don't always show on the stat sheet, he's still got a good reach to help in the zone. Nobles had a pair of steals in his ten minutes on the floor and still could use some in-game reps to progress moving forward.